Growing up in Vermont, most places I considered “vegan” were stereotypical hippie joints – local co-ops bathed in patchouli oil, incense, and Birkenstock footprints. And, while many places in the Green Mountain State still resemble those icons, the vegan scene in Vermont is changing.
On a recent trip home, we pulled our car into a non-descript parking lot in Essex. The property is shared with a nursery/greenhouse. A small sign over a beautiful deck read “Sweet Alchemy Bakery and Cafe.”
From the outside on this chilly Winter day, so far the experience was quintessential Vermont – from the rolling frozen hills in the distance, to the barn-esque design of Sweet Alchemy. Once inside, the warm, sweet smells of a talented baker completed the experience.
Spending a week in Philly has been an awesome chance to get out and check the vegan scene. So far it has been an awesome experience.
Shortly after landing at PHL, I hit the road and had dinner at Hip City Veg on South 40th.
The spot was super nice, and had seats in the huge front window for epic people watching. I arrived later in the day, even after dinner, so the place was pretty empty.
The next challenge was to choose something from the menu. It isn’t a super expansive menu, but there was a decent variety of things. After hearing rave reviews of the Disco Chickin Sandwich, I ordered one up. I added a side of sweet potato fries, and the mysterious black bean dip.
It’s always exciting when you hear about a new vegan place in Portland. Especially with what seems like so many deciding to close their doors.
So yesterday, on a whim I ended up pointing the truck toward SE Belmont, and dropping in on Fatsquatch PDX.
The cart is nestled in a small pod on Belmont (Belmont Street Eats), and if you didn’t know it was there, you could possibly walk right past it. But once in the narrow little alleyway it opens up, with Fatsquatch lurking in the back like its namesake. Don’t expect covered eating at this pod, however. I had to eat in the truck.
Living in the woods of Oregon, you must be proficient with a few critical things. Make a damn good coffee, and be able to hit your target with judicious marksmanship.
So when those two things unite, it makes for an awesome product.
Enter Black Rifle Coffee Company. This small batch, veteran-owned roaster hails from Utah. They have an awesome brand which represents the antithesis of what they call “hipster coffee.” Which, in my opinion was becoming overly pretentious. I want my coffee good, I want it consistent, and I want my roaster armed (not kidding, the photo below is from their website. I love it).
One of the biggest concerns I have had with the JK platform was under hood heat. The engine bays (in both the 3.8 and 3.6 variants) are super cramped, and we push our Jeeps when offroading, especially in hot and dusty places like Moab or the Rubicon.
I was really excited when Rugged Ridge sent me one of their performance vented hoods to try. This would be the perfect chance to see just what kind of a difference would be seen with a vented hood.
Before the Rugged Ridge hood, I considered a bunch of options. Starting with the cheaper end, I looked at hood louvers from companies like Gen Right and Poison Spider. The biggest benefit to these, is that you do not need to paint your hood.
Believe it or not, we have so many vegan establishments in Portland that it is still a possibility to explore new ones. And this is exactly what happened to me recently when visiting Sweetpea Baking Company in SE Portland.
I had been there before, but usually only to pick up a special order cake, or for a coffee emergency.
The drinks tend to be on the fruitier side than their sister bar (The Sweet Hereafter). Their Mojito is decent, the Stockholm is a popular choice for Melanie. I prefer the Three Liars, with mint and cucumber infused gin. Especially on a hot Portland day.
Their beer list is ever changing and okay. They could stand to get a few more taps and expand the variety a little more. That being said, they do a good job with the taps they have. Their IPAs are usually top shelf.
The ambiance is nice and chill. You never know who you may see while at the Bye and Bye – I have seen small families, older folks, the typical hipster, and all people in between.
Food wise? Phenom like penh.
The Eastern Bowl and their new sammy loaded with buffalo soy curls and amazing candied almonds are both amazing and make me want to get all Touretty. Notice how I forgot the name of the damn sandwich? That’s because it was named after something abstract and cool. It doesn’t matter, just get it and love it. (EDIT: The sammy is called “Frank’s Wild Years” and I assume there is some backstory there). It is the yin to the Sweet Hereafter’s Buffalo Soldier’s Yang, and I would say it is a tie for the best sammich.
Another thing to grab is their new(ish) pretzels. It’s good these come 2 on a plate, as I think I could eat an entire platter of these damn things. Skip the mustard and plunge that puppy right into their homemade cheesy dip. They come out warm, and with just the right amount of salt on them to make them addictive.
The biggest (albeit the only) complaint I have with them is that they are too damn cool to answer the phone. I’d love to place a quick to go order and grab an Eastern to go. But they never answer. Ah well, such is the price for awesomeness, I suppose.
The pros far outweigh the cons (I only counted one con) for the B&B though. Great ambiance, awesome service, beautiful atmosphere. Combine that with great vegan bar food, and good drinks and we have a Portland establishment.
Every night I pray to the vegan Gods that the B&B is here forever.